Source : Reuters
By Reza Derakhshi
TEHRAN | Mon Jan 10, 2011 7:42am EST
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has arrested a “network of spies” linked to Israel’s Mossad intelligence service which it blames for the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010, Iran’s state television reported on Monday.
Tensions are running high between Iran and Israel, which has not ruled out military strikes on the Islamic Republic if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve a row over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Iran has vowed to retaliate for any strikes with missile salvoes on Israel and U.S. targets in the Gulf.
“The Intelligence Ministry … has identified and arrested members of a spy and terrorist network linked to the Zionist regime,” state television quoted a statement issued by the ministry as saying.
“The network of spies and terrorists linked to … Mossad was destroyed. The network was behind the assassination of Masoud Ali-Mohammadi.”
A remote-controlled bomb killed the Tehran University scientist in Tehran on January 12 last year. Iran blamed the United States and Israel for the killing. Washington has denied charges of involvement as “absurd”.
Iran and Israel have been arch-enemies since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, and Tehran periodically announces arrests of people suspected of spying for Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize.
Under Iran’s penal code, imposed since its 1979 Islamic revolution, espionage can carry the death penalty. In December Iran hanged an Iranian man convicted of spying for Israel.
Another Iranian man was hanged in 2008 for allegedly working with Mossad. Israel denied having any links with the case.
Iran often accuses Israel and the United States of trying to destabilize the Islamic Republic.
Israel, believed to be the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, sides with the United States and its allies in accusing Iran of seeking to build atomic weapons.
Iran denies this, saying it wants to use nuclear power to generate electricity.
“The Zionist regime used some European and non-European countries as well as some neighboring countries to carry out the assassination,” the statement said, without giving further details.
Another Iranian nuclear scientist was killed on November 29 by a car bomb in Tehran and Iranian officials called it an Israeli or U.S.-sponsored attack on its atomic programme.